One of the Ayurvedic principles that helps digestion is the element of Fire. Fire is warm, transformative, purifying, sharp, focused and obviously digestive.
In Ayurveda we call this principle agni. Agni is the word for fire in Sanskrit. More precisely jathara agni is our main digestive fire (although there are about 40 different agnis). This is one which transforms our food to nourishment. It will assimilate as well as release any waste or mala further through the digestive tract.
When you live Ayurvedically you observe how you digest. If your agni is balanced you can digest your food easily. It will tell you when you are hungry and you will listen and obey your agni. It will transform your food and beverages into nourishment and help the elimination process.
Focus on creating a healthy digestion as the foundation for your wellbeing. It’s one of the main pillars of health according to Ayurveda. In any Ayurvedic health regime this is the focus. Once you learn to listen to your agni – your digestion, your hunger and your inner wisdom – you will start to feel better both physically and mentally.
Your digestive Fire can manifest in many ways.
You probably know someone who can eat, drink and smoke anything they want in great quantities and still remain happy and healthy. Maybe it is you! If so, you are blessed with a strong constitution and a great agni. Still enjoy a healthy balanced diet according to your inner wisdom and the seasons.
Not all of us are blessed with a balanced agni. Some of us have a low fire: our digestion is sluggish, we may not feel hungry, we feel nauseous and do not digest well. Even when we do digest we may not absorb as much nutrients from food as someone with a healthy agni. Enjoy warming foods and spices to ignite your fire and encourage good digestion.
Perhaps your fire is burning a little too much. You experience heartburn, indigestion and irritability due to this fire and heat. You may feel hunger but the agni digests your food so quickly that your body doesn’t get time to get all the nourishment. Add cooling herbs and foods to your diet to balance the fire.
This a variable and irregular digestion. Sometimes you feel very hungry and then not at all. Perhaps you have cravings. It often manifest in stomach cramps, feeling bloated and what is called IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. Where there is irregularity, the body will find it challenging to digest properly. Add some digestive herbs and spices such as ginger, cumin or coriander to keep regular. Create balance with meditation and your daily routine.
Remember we need both physical movement to support our digestive system as well as rest to digest. Try invigorating exercise, dynamic yoga and twists to fire up the agni. If rest is in order, meditate or practice a slow flow and yin yoga. When the mind calms down it is easier for your digestive system to do what it needs to do.